Lodi police are asking for help from the community to curb a recent string of gang-related crimes, which have only escalated as January has progressed.
“We’re running low on leads right now,” said Lodi police Detective Larry Fluty, with the Special Investigations Unit. “When you get a gang-related crime, everyone wants to keep quiet.”
The latest incident was the shooting of two 15-year-old Sureno gang members on Monday. Sgt. Fernando Martinez, of the Lodi Police Department said both teens were shot in the shoulder with a shotgun by a rival Norteno near Church and Olive streets at 6:50 p.m. The victims were dropped off at Lodi Memorial Hospital two hours after the incident, but provided little information, Fluty said. Their wounds were not life-threatening.
Police believe the violence may have begun with graffiti incidents (also referred to as tagging) in both Lodi and Galt a couple of months ago. Fluty said members from each gang were tagging in rival territory as a sign of disrespect.
Other recent incidents include a 17-year-old Sureno arrested for stealing a woman’s purse on Jan. 13, who was later apprehended and found to have a stolen handgun on him, and a Sureno who was stabbed by three to four Nortenos on Jan. 14. Fluty said the stabbing victim, also 17 years old, suffered a collapsed lung and had to be transferred to UC Davis Medical Center. However, the victim did recover and has already been released.
“A lot of our gang members are carrying guns, chains, and knives on them recently because of the recent outbreak in the Norteno and Sureno battle,” Fluty said. “It’s getting worse. We’re out there ... contacting gang members and trying to get it under control.”
Police estimate there are 50 to 60 documented Norteno gang members in Lodi, and around 40 documented Surenos. But Fluty said there could be more gang members who simply haven’t been documented yet. Without much cooperation from witnesses, police are having a hard time investigating gang-related crimes.
“The witnesses are scared of retaliation,” he said. “It’s not going to get better unless people come forward and provide us with information.”
Contact reporter Fernando Gallo at firstname.lastname@example.org.